Springs visitors, construction workers and graduation weekends are contributors to Alachua County’s average hotel room bookings of more than 4,000 rooms on Friday and Saturday nights.
According to Jessica Hurov, Alachua County’s tourism manager, that equates to a projection of $10 million in revenue for the month of April, garnering $500,000 in bed tax for Alachua County.
Mark Sexton, Alachua County’s communications and legislative affairs director, presented the latest data to the Alachua Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Tuesday. He said the past three months have been the highest rate of hotel room booking since the pandemic started.
The 62 hotel properties in Alachua County have a combined total of approximately 5,700 rooms to rent. In February, 59 percent were occupied, bringing in $6.5 million, and of that, $300,000 was collected as part of the Alachua County bed tax.
In March, 69 percent of the rooms were occupied, yielding $8 million in revenue and $400,000 in taxes.
“That’s good news for the county and for people in that business,” said Hurov, who projected an average occupancy rate of 73 percent and $2.5 million in weekly hotel revenue in April.
The report comes from the third party hospitality data company STR, Hurov said. The bed tax does not include private AirBnb rentals.
“When we track, we look at these numbers,” said Hurov. “We take the occupancy percentage and calculate what that means in terms of total number of rooms booked.”
She said the county had 104,253 booked rooms in February and 122,300 in March.
Hurov said Friday and Saturdays have always been the top two nights of the week for hotel room occupancy.
“On any given week, we are averaging 85 percent occupancy per weekend night.”
That translates to an average of 4,845 per night bookings on Fridays and Saturdays.
Hurov contributes some of the increase in room bookings from people traveling within the state or from nearby states and to a Visit Gainesville and Alachua County billboard campaign placed along Interstate 75 just south of the Florida/Georgia state line. It encourages tourists to “Stay, dine, explore Gainesville and Alachua County.”
Also the location of the county just off the highway means that the area has a strategic advantage.
“People pull off the highway on their way to beaches,” Hurov said. “It’s a great place for a pitstop or road trip or to come back and visit when you have the time.”